Knowing that logistics is a key advantage, the state of Georgia isn’t leaving anything to chance. It created a Center of Innovation for Logistics whose missions is to provide technical industry expertise, collaborative research and partnerships to help the industry grow.
The state wants to ensure that it is keeping up with both the growing demand and technology. To this end a Logistics Summit was held in April.
“The focus of this meeting was on technology,” explained Jannine Miller, director of Center of Innovation for Logistics, which is part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “We are approaching it from a few different angles which include operational visibility and efficiency as well as Big Data analytics and industry disruptors.”
The state has a strong logistics foundation upon which to build. The Port of Brunswick is the country’s busiest for new automobile imports and is also the second largest grain facility in the East Coast. The Port of Savannah is the fastest growing container port in the U.S. This port will see capital improvement spending total $1.4 billion over the next few years.
The state is home to the largest intermodal facility on the East Coast. Warehousing, with more than 3 million square feet available, has attracted big players such as Clorox, JC Penney, Kimberly-Clark. Pepsi, Target and the Home Depot. Over 19.5 million square feet of cold storage is available as well.
The state has attracted the companies that serve the logistics industry with 90% of the world’s top 3PLs located in Georgia. And the top logistic IT providers call the state home.
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport handles more than 625,000 metric tons of cargo. Its 3 cargo complexes provide 2 million square feet of warehousing. The state also has a network of 104 public-use airports.
Its highways system is ranked 9th nationally with 450,000 licenses truck drivers.
While the logistic system is strong, with 3,99 providers employing 104,797, it will have to continue to advance given the projections for 2020 which show that motor vehicles, plastic, organic chemicals, textile products and grain will be the top commodities by value.
Part of the growth of the region is due to manufacturing companies that are looking to expand or build factories closer to customers. In fact last year the state saw more than $4 billion in investments with 75% coming from manufacturing.
“Part of the reason we are attracting so much business is due to our logistics,” says Miller. “But we also provide a business-friendly environment with favorable taxation rates as well as incentives.”
But growth must be supported by technology and with the IoT and other technologies becoming available the state is looking at all options. “There are a lot of applications we are looking at that run the full spectrum of how we plan the movement of goods, executive and track the movement and finally analyze the movement for improvement,” Miller says.
Working with area institutions such as Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute as well as private providers, the state wants to offer its businesses the most advanced tools to manage the supply chain.
The government is supportive of these efforts as well. In January the state announced plans to spend $2 billion to build truck-only lanes along 40 miles of I-75. Part of the plan is to use these lanes to test new highway technologies.
The lanes are part of a larger transportation bill approved last year that includes $10 billion worth of new highway, bridge and road improvement projects statewide.
Word must be getting out since last month the inaugural Supply Chain Conference of Auto Logistics was held in Atlanta. And the city has hosted the Supplier Opportunities & Aerospace Conference as well.
Building on the strength of these industries, the state is also looking to expand other opportunities. At the Summit this year one of the strategic goals was to further develop the perishables industry. Hartsfield-Jackson Airport houses a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved Perishables Complex, the only one of its kind in the southeast United States.
“All of our strategic efforts will continue to ensure that logistics remains a competitive differential for our state,” says Miller.